2020/04/09

The Magic Is Missing

This exclusive preview of my new entertainment industry exposé sheds light on what befell the sense of fun and wonder that once defined beloved franchises.

Don't Give Money to People Who Hate You - Brian Niemeier

You probably have a favorite movie franchise, TV show, or comic book series that hooked you as a kid. It’s a good bet that many of your fondest childhood memories are associated with that franchise.
Think back to that cozy Thanksgiving Day at Grandma’s. After dinner I bet you vegged out to the annual TV broadcast of Star Wars.
Who could forget the after-school ritual of going over to your buddy’s house, loading up on sugary snacks, and watching ThunderCats?
Remember how you met your best friend from high school while searching that hole-in-the-wall comic book shop for back issues of X-Men?
Like most folks of the generations raised by Saturday morning cartoons and Nintendo, there came a day when you put aside childish pastimes for adult responsibilities. But in the last few years, something strange has happened. The flickering video images and brightly colored pieces of plastic have regained a foothold in your life. Before you knew it, diversions from your youth had reasserted their former prominence.
But let’s be honest. If you stop to think about it, these aren’t your cherished childhood entertainments—not exactly. Compared to the fun, uplifting IPs of yesteryear, the new versions run the gamut from pale imitations to brazen impostors. The magic is missing, but you can’t put your finger on what happened to it. Is something wrong with the product itself, or is it just you getting older?
It’s not just you.
The landmark franchises that came out of the 60s, 70s, and 80s found broad and lasting appeal because their creators mainly wanted to entertain. Let’s forgo the notion that these industry moguls were pure altruists pursuing art for art’s sake. They were businessmen. But they were still craftsmen of clear artistic vision who knew their audiences and knew they had to satisfy those audiences to succeed.
It seems easy enough to chart the downward trajectory from there. The great IPs passed from aging legends to lesser talents in whose clumsy hands they withered. Ask most people who recognize the decline, and they’ll place the blame on insular fandoms inheriting the keys to the kingdom and remaking it in their image. The beloved brands, they say, are gone—replaced with fan fiction scrawled by pretenders who don’t understand what made the old stories great.
There’s certainly some truth to that assessment. Current year comic book issues and TV scripts read like wish fulfillment fiction once relegated to the sunless corners of the web.
But the phenomenon of major studios giving custody of their brands to people who don’t understand them also needs explaining. These are billion or even trillion-dollar companies. They likewise got where they are by pleasing customers. Everyone makes mistakes, but the insistence of IP holders across multiple industries to alienate their customers hints at other motives.
One motive we can strike off the list up front is profit. When Marvel and DC Comics accelerate their slide into irrelevance and each Disney Star Wars movie disappoints worse than the last, we must conclude that the entertainment industry is either run by idiots or people whose main goal isn’t making money.
Why does Hollywood keep churning out inferior—even insulting—imitations of classics from bygone decades? Why does a rising undercurrent of hostility run through so many new TV shows? Why are Big Two comic books increasingly fixated on issues that most people outside the Columbia faculty lounge find downright bizarre?
Art reflects its culture of origin. If you walked out of a theater recently feeling like the movie you just saw was made by people from an alien culture at odds with your own, it wasn’t your imagination.
If the last show you binged on Netflix left you confused and more than a little disturbed, that whiff of brimstone wasn’t just in your head.
If the last superhero comic you read came off like propaganda spread by invading enemies to demoralize the target populace, you’re not being paranoid.
You’ve heard of the Coastal Bubble effect. It’s a term that’s come to describe the bifurcation of American society into two distinct and incompatible cultures. The culture typified by Middle America retains a semblance of the nation’s founding Christian morals and pioneer outlook. But a mutant offshoot culture has emerged from the petri dish of academia, old media, and the federal bureaucracy to dominate these institutions’ coastal power centers.
This ascendant urban, coastal culture is really an anti-culture because it can create nothing new. It can only parasitically feed on traditional American culture while warping it beyond recognition. The anti-culture has dominated the beltway and the super ZIPs for so long that entire generations of the managerial, entertainment, and media classes have come of age knowing nothing else.
Screenwriters don’t insert feminist dogma into movies because they think it serves the story, or even because they decide to get on a soapbox. They take feminism for granted just like the architects of Notre Dame Cathedral took Christianity for granted. The same goes for TV writers who assume default atheism and comic book writers who push intersectional theory.
But as art reflects culture, a culture reflects its members’ lived religious tradition. The anti-culture is an outward expression of a nihilistic anti-cult.
Most of the people involved in producing your entertainment adhere to an unofficial secular religion defined by the rejection of objective truth, goodness, and beauty. They view the right to individual self-expression as the only absolute, and any potential limit on personal preferences, including truth itself, is reviled as an arbitrary oppression to be destroyed.
Because this nameless cult branched off from American culture founded on Christianity, the concepts of truth, goodness, and beauty against which it rebels are those that were originally transmitted by the Church. The cult’s most rabid hatred is therefore reserved for Christianity and Christians.
Since the cult seeks to destroy the foundations of the West—thereby destroying everything built on those foundations, including itself—many keen observers call it the Death Cult. That’s how this book will refer to the primary belief system driving the degradation of popular culture.
If you are a normal American—or a citizen of a nation with origins in Christendom—the Death Cult hates you and wants you destroyed. First, though, it wants you demoralized and humiliated. Always remember that the Cultists firmly believe you are standing between them and an earthly paradise free of oppression and bigotry. Christ is the Devil in their inverted worldview, and you are His demons. Because you believe in truth.
Think I’m exaggerating? Let’s try a thought experiment. Take thirty seconds. Name as many movies, TV shows, video games, and comics as you can think of that mock God, Jesus Christ, or the Church.
I bet you needed two hands to count all the entertainment products that blaspheme Christianity.
Now do Islam.
If you could think of any, they probably weren’t from the last twenty years.
The people who run the movie, TV, and publishing industries think of you like colonial Puritans thought of witches. They hate you, they control the franchises you loved as a kid, and they’ve weaponized them against you and your children.
And they’re charging you for the privilege.
Don’t pay to be insulted. Don’t give money to people who hate you.
That’s easy to say, right? Contemporary life is a constant grind. Are we supposed to stop consuming entertainment altogether? Even if we did, would it break the Death Cult’s grip on Hollywood?
The answer to both of those questions is no.
The information age enabled the Death Cult’s conquest of the culture, but it also offers free and legal ways around their hegemony. And failing to do the right thing for a lack of immediate, tangible impact is how normal people lost control in the first place. If reclaiming your dignity isn’t reason enough, there’s ample reason not to fund your own disenfranchisement.

It’s possible to stop supporting the Death Cult without becoming a hermit. Not only is it possible, it’s necessary. If you’d like to learn how you can take back your dignity, stop funding your sworn enemies, and have fun while you’re at it, read Don't Give Money to People Who Hate You--coming soon!

In the meantime, support authors who appreciate you--without having to pay us! Get the Corona-chanthology for free now!

Corona-chan: Spreading the Love - Brian Niemeier

12 comments:

  1. I am very excited to read this, and that sample gave me the taste I was looking for.

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    1. I'm delighted you enjoyed the appetizer. The main course is on the way!

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  2. We have been needing a book like this for a long time. Something that lays it all, something that I can buy and give to people who I want to educate.

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    1. You came to the right place. That's exactly why I wrote this book, and why there will be a print version.

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  3. It's looking good. We definitely need a book like this out there.

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    1. Agreed. And the virus has accelerated my indifference to mainstream cultural content.
      The amount of kickstater/indigo goodness is so pleasing

      xavier

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    2. You're welcome. So far the crowd funding I've engaged in has been very satisfactory and satisfying.
      xavier

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  4. Excited to see this. I’ve wanted a book like this to hand off to others. Will definitely be purchasing it once it is available. And thank you for that sample/introduction for us to read.

    For what is left of it, have a blessed Holy Week.

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  5. Looking forward to the book. Will you be drawing distinctions between earlier revivals (Star Trek: TNG, the Star Wars resurgence of the 90s, the quality but ill-fated He-Man revival of 2002) and their parallels and differences to the present crop?

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    1. A pertinent question. You'll get a lot out of this book.

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